South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol pardoned Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee on Friday, with the justice ministry saying the business leader was needed to help overcome a "national economic crisis," Reuters reported.

The pardon is largely symbolic, with Lee already out on parole after serving 18 months in jail for bribery in a scandal that led to massive protests and brought down then-President Park Geun-hye in 2017.

However, analysts said the pardon should mean Lee will be able to carry out business activities with fewer legal restrictions, and could herald some large investments from Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone and memory-chip maker.

"With urgent needs to overcome the national economic crisis, we carefully selected economic leaders who lead the national growth engine through active technology investment and job creation to be pardoned," Justice Minister Han Dong Hoon told a briefing.

Lee, an heir of Samsung's founding family, welcomed the decision and vowed to work hard for the national economy "with continuous investment and job creation."

Also pardoned by the pro-business Yoon was Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, who was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on charges of bribery, also related to Park.